It’s easy to say Elvis Presley had a career run of good luck as he headed into the sixties. From his first Sun Records single, he created a stir, and fostered a following that would set records and inspire a new youthful direction in the whole sphere of entertainment. But any carny worth his salt can read people like a book, and Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker was perhaps the greatest since Barnum. In the new decade, he set new course was based on making movies that made money, fulfilling the RCA Records contract, and keeping Elvis off the TV and tour bus.
In 1960, America was on the verge of exploring the new frontier, getting ready to pass the torch to a new generation. Who would imagine that two of the year’s biggest hit melodies would be written in 1898 and 1926? And, who would imagine that they would both be recorded in the same session?
Memphis was the summit of success for many singers, and a jumping-off point for others. Roy Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas, and grew up in Wink. He went to North Texas State to study geology, but after seeing Elvis in concert in Dallas, it was another type of rock altogether that had his attention. He left behind the country and western swing direction of his first band, the Wink Westerners, and started another called the Teen Kings. Johnny Cash shared a bill with that band, and suggested Roy contact Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
A couple of hundred miles can sometimes make all the difference in the world. When you look at it, even among the members of the million dollar quartet, Elvis came from Tupelo, Jerry Lee Lewis from Ferriday, Carl Perkins from Jackson, and Johnny Cash from Dyess, Arkansas, to make it big in Memphis. So it stands to reason some Memphians would find their place in the sun by moving on down the line. Two transplants in particular helped shape and define Nashville’s Music City reputation.
Many an arena was rocked by the strains of the song Aerosmith chose to close their shows, a tune with a long legacy known as “Train Kept-A-Rollin’.” Long before the first Aerosmith fans lit their Bics for an encore, the song was a staple of the hard rock scene.
It was the first song Led Zeppelin played when they formed in 1968.
Led Zeppelin formed, of course, from the remnants of blues-rock innovators The Yardbirds, who had their own go at the song in 1965.